Parshat Nitzavim-Vayelech!

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By Gabrielle Sharbin

This week we read Parshat Nitzavim-Vayelech! This Parshah contains some of the most essential principals of Judaism!

One of these fundamentals is the unity of Israel, something that still rings true today, and is unbelievably relevant in 2014!

Another important point is the future redemption. Moshe warns the Jewish people of the exile and desolation, which will ensue if the Israelites do not follow Hashem’s commandments. In addition Moshe prophesizes and states, “You will return to the L‑rd your G‑d . . . If your outcasts shall be at the ends of the heavens, from there will the L‑rd your G‑d gather you . . . and bring you into the Land which your fathers have possessed.”

As I just previously mentioned the relevance and practicality of the Torah is addressed as well. Many have grown skeptical of the Torah’s significance in such a modern time. However it’s widely apparent that the values, laws, and stories written in the Torah still play an enormous role in our lives. A wonderful quote from this Parshah sums up the importance of our Torah beautifully, “For the mitzvah which I command you this day, it is not beyond you, nor is it remote from you. It is not in heaven . . . It is not across the sea . . . Rather, it is very close to you, in your mouth, in your heart, that you may do it.”

Another point touched upon is freedom of choice. Have you heard of the constitution? Peaked at a newspaper? Read a history book? The idea of freedom is the foundation of the United States of America, it governs most aspects of global life, and was in addition discussed in our holiest book thousands of years ago. Have I proven the Torah’s relevance just yet?

This Parshah also recounts the last day of Moshe’s life. Moshe transfers the duty of leadership onto Joshua and concludes writing the Torah in a scroll, which he entrusts to the Levites to keep safe, and away from harm.

The mitzvah of Hakhel (to gather) is given in this Torah portion. It states, every seven years during Sukkot, and the first year of the Shemittah cycle, all of the Jewish people should go to the Holy Temple to hear the king read from the holy Torah.

Vayelech concludes on a bit of an ominous note. This Parshah includes a prediction, which states that, the Jewish people will neglect Hashem’s covenant, causing G-d to hide his face from them. However, it finally ends with a promise that the words of the Torah “shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their descendants.” Even if we do not keep our promise to Hashem, he will always keep his promise to us!

Continuing with our Shabbat around the world series (drumroll please)…this week we will be traveling all the way to Italia! Many may not know that Italy has a substantial Jewish community! Just this summer my family traveled to Italy, and visited the Jewish Ghettos in Rome, and in Venice (both with wonderful Chabad houses)!

Their synagogues are absolutely exquisite, and unbelievably rich in culture and history. One of the most famous Italian Jewish dishes is Carciofi alla Giudia (Artichokes Jewish Style! My family and I tried this dish in Rome, and let me tell you, it was absolutely delicious! I hope you try out this amazing dish, and bring a bit of Italiano to your Shabbos table!

Shabbat Shalom!

Carciofi alla Giudia (Artichokes Jewish Style)

Adapted from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook

12 small artichokes

Juice of 2 lemons

Olive oil for deep frying

1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

½ cup fresh basil leaves

2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

10 cloves garlic, crushed Matzoh meal or flour for dredging

1. Trim the tops off the artichokes, working around the globe to retain the shape. Halve the lemons, juice them, and cover with cold water. Soak the artichokes in this lemon water until ready to use, then drain dry.

2. Hold the artichokes by the stems and bang them a little against the countertop to open the leaves.

3. Combine ½ cup of the olive oil, the parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic and sprinkle the mixture between the leaves. Roll each artichoke in matzo meal or flour.

4. Heat a large pot, wok, or Dutch oven with a cover, filled with about 3 inches of oil, to sizzling. Deep-fry 2–3 artichokes at a time for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally with a tongs; they will puff up as they cook. Serve hot, sprinkled with additional sea salt. Yield: 6 servings